THE MOG BLOG continues...
JIBBO is the youth information and counselling umbrella organisation for the region and we visited a centre set just within the grounds of a school in Ilmajoki (just down the road from Seinajoki).
This is a great information centre with really friendly youth work staff who are pro-actively providing information services to young people in the area.
There were a couple of points that came up during our brief visit here which I think are very applicable to work here in Wales and maybe in the wider world of youth information work.
The first was the concept of working in schools. Oh yes, the classic situation where, even though this particular information centre is within the school grounds, there has been some resistance to information provision. I think, from listening to the staff, it's a matter of understanding the relevance of information and how it can be mutually beneficial for workers, teachers and young people. The staff at the centre expressed how it has been a struggle for the last year or so to be "accepted" by the formal educators and has required a pro-active approach in terms of engagement with the school to promote the value and importance of information work.
However, it would seem that the work is paying dividends for both the school and the information centre with mutual referrals and signposting as well as the opportunity for joined up workshops and events. I feel that this example really shows how information work can be a "seasonal" venture (e.g. providing pro-active information depending on the time of year; info around exams perhaps?) as well as a preventative service (e.g. providing pro-active information relating to monitoring of enquiries; providing workshops/specialists in response to an increase in enquiries around housing/bullying etc.).
The second point raised concerned my ongoing internal ethical discussion around the often mutual exclusivity of information work vs issue based/traditional youth work. The staff here felt that their information work was very much a "part" of their youth work, a part of their working week when they were required to provide purely information work.
For me, youth work is very much a part of information work; it's all about how you see and reflect on the way you work and the methods you employ dependent on the situation that arises. Now, I don't want to start going on about praxis, Friere and so on as that's for another post, but I'm really becoming fascinated with youth work approaches and the inclusion or otherwise of the wider field of youth information work that harnesses and encompasses many youth work based approaches.
Although this was very much a flying visit, it did provoke a lot of debate for me which I hope will provide some comments here.
More info on JIBBO HERE (Finnish only)